By: Blonde Two

Mr B2 and I spend last weekend in Wales with some of the family. We rented a lovely holiday cottage (with its own, rather unexpected, river) and had a grand time chatting, playing outside and swimming/dipping in the chilly river and lake (me).

On our way home, we decided to take the mountain route and visit Bwlch y Groes, also occasionally known as Hellfire Pass. Bwlch y Groes (Pass of the Cross) is one of the highest mountain road passes in Wales at 545 metres, it is also one of the steepest and much dreaded by those who have to walk (I didn’t) and cycle (he didn’t) up it. Here are the contour lines for you to examine.

Copyright Ordnance Survey 2017 (OS Maps)

We drove up from the Bala (north) side and didn’t have much time for exploring. This was a shame because, as you can see from the pictures, there was an abundance of beautiful, wild and wonderful (if slightly boggy) land available to explore.

Bwlch y Groes has history (as you would expect from a mountain pass). Its steep side was used by motor companies in the 1930s and 40s to hill test vehicles and (well before that) was on a pilgrimage route from the more northerly parts of Wales.

The views from the top of Bwlch y Groes are stunning and deserve more time than I gave them. I did enjoy hunting for the cross though, which isn’t at the top of the pass and isn’t on the map. It sits instead at the junction with the road that leads down to Lake Vrynwy and, despite its humble appearance, must surely deserve recognition for its link to some of the most consonant-heavy place names in Europe.